a former prison island turns into a backpacker and diving destination

Koh Tao lies in the Gulf of Thailand and is with an area of about 21 km² the smallest island amongst its sister islands Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Historically Koh Tao was once a detention place for political prisoners.  Nowadays, the vast majority of guests are backpackers, although in recent years the number of more wealthy tourists has increased, so that here too, the older wooden bungalows are increasingly being replaced by buildings that offer more comfort.

The name Koh Tao means "turtle island" and comes from a time when the sea around the island was still populated by a large number of sea turtles. There are hardly any currents which makes this island an ideal destination for divers. On the island you can find a wide selection of dive sites and dive shops, schools and resorts.

Enjoying delicious Thai food

After we celebrated the Full Moon Party in the neighbor island Koh Phangan. Me, a Thai girl, an US guy and a French guy went to the island Koh Tao by ferry the following day. The loud noise of the engine room right next to us didn't really cure our hangovers. Finally after 1,5 hour the boat arrived.

Our hostel owner picked us up directly from the harbour and drove us to the BP Hostel. It was run by a Thai couple who were super nice. In a restaurant close to there I had the most delicious food of all my trip. As a starter I had a fruity-hot papaya salad, using the unripe green papaya and not the ripe more sweetish ones. This was followed by a delicious Phad Tai, a stir-fried rice noodle dish with tofu and peanuts, as the main course. On top of that I had fresh coconut juice.

I personally really liked Koh Tao, probably my favorite place in Thailand so far. It has much more of a casual, alternative flair and the beaches are beautiful. On our first day we explored the island on a scooter and visited some viewpoints and beaches.  There are a lot of young people here, as there are many diving schools here. Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to try diving as I was with my non-diving friends.

Celebrating Christmas Eve until 5 am

In the evening, it was Christmas Eve, we celebrated on the beach at some cool bars. The atmosphere was much better than at the Full Moon Party and I also enjoyed the electro music much more. Until 5 am we celebrated. Definitely a different Christmas than I usually enjoy. I even met a Thai Santa Claus.

Chilling on the beach on Christmas day

The next day we had booked a tour, but somehow we all overslept and the hostel owners allowed us to postpone it to the next day. We also had to extend our stay. However, our hostel was already fully booked, but the owners were kind enough to offer us a cheap room in their sister hotel where we could move to. We had the room for us.

We spent the first Christmas day at the beach. A really great beach with crystal clear water and few people (despite the high season). We dined at a restaurant on the beach and later went to bed early because we didn't get much sleep the night before.

Koh Nang Yuan - a tiny paradise island

The next day we joined the tour of our hostel, which led us to the paradise island Koh Nang Yuan, which is located in the North West of Koh Tao. Included in the trip was a snorkeling trip, where we all rather got a sunburn than seeing much of the underwater world.

On the small island Koh Nang Yuan we had nearly 2 hours time. Before entry it is controlled that you do not carry plastic with you, because plastic garbage shall be prevented. We walked on the small hill where we had a view over the island from above. The beaches are snow white and the water crystal clear. Usually pictures of beaches and the ocean look more beautiful than they actually are but this place really looked as stunning as on photo. Later we had some time to swim in the water.

In the evening we grabbed our stuff and went on by night ferry to Phuket.

March 19, 2020, 9:26 a.m.